1800 N Dixboro Rd,
Ann Arbor, MI 48105
About Matthaei Botanical Gardens
Matthaei Botanical Gardens has a variety of wonderful spaces to explore on your own or with family. The children’s gardens and conservatory are homes to both native and exotic species of flowers, trees, and shrubs that are magical to experience.
We’ve noticed that the Koi Fish in the conservatory and the Bonsai Tree display are particularly fascinating for both children and adults. In addition there is nearly three miles of trails and natural areas on the gardens property that provide the possibility for hours of natural education and play opportunities. Hawks, turtles, blue herons, and frogs are among the many species that you will have a chance to observe as they enjoy the grounds and skies of Matthaei.
The University of Michigan has crafted the amazing grounds of Matthaei Botanical Gardens just north and east of Downtown Ann Arbor and graciously allows public access 7 days a week! With a gift shop, wheelchair accessible points of interest, and an incredibly helpful staff to assist with any questions, this location stands out as one of the top nature destinations in Washtenaw County! It is definitely one of our favorites!
1610 Washington Heights,
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
About Nichols Arboretum
Nichols Arboretum, known to locals as “The Arb” is a highly regarded park in Washtenaw County. This huge 123-acre site provides access to a vast trail system, views of the Huron River, and features many gorgeous flower gardens, plant collections, and ongoing restoration projects.
There are unique features such as the amphitheater which is used for outdoor performances like Shakespeare in the Arb. Every year hundreds of residents flock to the park to attend the blooming of the Peony Garden and the Japanese Cherry Willows in the spring. These events are greatly anticipated each year by the local community as well as being a major draw for newcomers to this amazing outdoor oasis tucked into downtown Ann Arbor.
We love the arb because you can go in, get lost, and wander for hours. This park is owned by the University of Michigan and is located near Central Campus making it an easy access point for all.
8170 Ford Road
Ypsilanti, MI 48198
About Kosch-Headwaters Preserve
Kosch-Headwaters Preserve is a nature preserve that encompasses many different types of environments such as wetlands, woodland, farmland, and open grassy meadows. The vast array of plant life, especially the milkweed, attracts butterflies and other pollinators. You'll also see different varieties of birds which make this location ideal for nature photography and birding adventures. One can’t help but feel a sense of calm come over them when wandering Kosch-Headwaters Preserve and this feeling is reflected back from the breezy fields of wildflowers and wide open pathways.
There are 3 sets of trails going through this preserve and each one brings new sights and smells for visitors to experience. Educational opportunities such as plant and wildflower identification can be done at this preserve and Wandering Washtenaw partners with expert naturalists to lead visitors on informational nature tours here.
LeFurge Woods Nature Preserve2384 N. Prospect Rd.,
Superior Twp., MI 48198
About LeFurge Woods Nature Preserve
The LeFurge Woods Nature Preserve is a great place to visit with family, friends, or by yourself. The trails are well maintained with mowed paths throughout the meadow that are easy for children and seniors to navigate. As soon as you enter the preserve you are treated to scenic views. A particular point of interest is the hilltop near the parking lot that overlooks wetlands. There are also ponds throughout this preserve which provide habitats to many ducks, wood frogs, swans and other animals all year round.
The trail system here is a mix of boardwalk and cleared pathways that lead out to the lush LeFurge Woods where a variety of foliage and mature trees serve as the perfect canopy for an afternoon stroll. This preserve also makes for a beautiful backdrop for photography sessions, especially in the early morning light that graces the meadows. LeFurge Woods offers a quiet place to reflect on nature whether you’re there to walk your dog or take in the sunset.
The LeFurge Woods Nature Preserve is owned and maintained by the Southeast Michigan Land Conservancy. Wandering Washtenaw and SMLC encourage volunteers to visit and help maintain this preserve. Volunteer activities include conservation projects such as park cleanups and trail maintenance workdays. Wandering Washtenaw also holds enrichment and recreation events at LeFurge Woods Nature Preserve throughout the year. Check our calendar for upcoming events.
2230 Platt Rd,
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
About County Farm Park
The Nelson Meade County Farm Park encompasses all that we love about nature areas in Washtenaw County. The floral gardens and perfectly planned landscapes at the entrance of the park immediately welcome visitors with vivid colors and intoxicating aromas. County Farm Park really does have it all. Inclusive play-structures are easily accessible at the front of the park along with the Project Grow Community Gardens. These 84 garden plots are available to rent for individuals looking for access to fresh food and relaxation in a community setting.
We encourage you to wander any of the several hiking and biking trails that branch off into the 18-acre Britton Woods Nature area. Along the trails you’ll find a vast array of wildlife such as butterflies, chipmunks, squirrels, grass snakes, deer, and more. There are many points of interest spread throughout the park and trails. You will find fitness stations, a prairie circle, perennial gardens, and many open spaces that are great for yoga and other group activities.
Wandering Washtenaw is excited to host a wide range of events and workshops at County Farm Park and guide you in your exploration. We look forward to partnering with Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Department for community enrichment projects that will continue to encourage residents to visit this awesome park.
1831 Traver Rd,
and Nature Center
Ann Arbor, MI 48105
About Leslie Science and Nature Center
The Leslie Science & Nature Center is a non-profit in Ann Arbor, MI that focuses on connections with nature, education, and efforts to protect the natural world through their many endeavors. Planning a visit to LSNC is made very exciting because of the variety of activities they have available. There is a critter house that features animals such as turtles, snakes, and frogs that are used to educate the public and inspire them to protect and care for creatures. Another feature of LSNC that achieves this are the Raptor Enclosures. These house birds of prey that are no longer able to survive on their own in the wild. Through generous support the Leslie Science and Nature Center is able to care for these birds and keep them in comfortable environments where they can be viewed by the public and be wildlife ambassadors.
Hiking trails are in abundance as well and on the Black Pond Woods trail you can view plants and animals of the forest and immerse yourself in the beauty of the land. Education gardens and projects are available to observe and learn as well.
The history of the Leslie Science and Nature Center is a story of the generosity and passion of the Leslie Family. The Leslie property was owned by Dr Eugene and Emily Leslie, Dr. Leslie was active in the field of chemical engineering and was a professor at the University of Michigan. The Leslies wanted to preserve their land for children and decided to deed their property to the City of Ann Arbor with a request that it be used for children. After their passing in 1976, the land was given over to the city of Ann Arbor who then established the Leslie Science Center which in 2007 gained non-profit status as The Leslie Science and Nature Center. The many opportunities for educational programs and family events on the gorgeous grounds make this location a treasure in Washtenaw County that Wandering Washtenaw is delighted to traverse with you.
8801 N Territorial Rd,
Dexter, MI 48130
About Hudson Mills Metropark
Hudson Mills Metropark is a picturesque park in the Huron-Clinton system of Michigan Metroparks. This is a place that you can take your family or friends and enjoy a whole day full of activities and relaxation. There’s a full 18-hole disc golf course along with softball and soccer fields, volleyball courts, and playgrounds spread throughout the park.
The trail system includes paved wheel accessible walking and biking paths as well as trails in the forest with easy to read maps and trail-heads. One of the best features of the Hudson Mills Metropark is the access to the Huron River. Bring your boat or kayak or even rent a canoe from the nearby Delhi Metropark to enjoy for the day! For those interested in biking, there are bikes available to rent out from the activity center and visitors are encouraged to bring their own gear as well.
Wandering Washtenaw is excited to bring this venue to your attention and will be hosting birding and nature walks among other educational workshops at this location.
*This park requires the Huron-Clinton Metroparks Permit which is available for purchase.
2 E Cross St,
Ypsilanti, MI 48198
About Riverside Park
Riverside Park is located steps away from both downtown and Depot Town of Ypsilanti. This park links the two areas and is the perfect place to go for a stroll after dinner or after the Farmers Market. The Annual Heritage Festival is held on the grounds here as well as other community oriented events throughout the year.
Riverside Park is full of potential for enrichment projects such as park-clean up days and Wandering Washtenaw will be leading volunteers from the community in making this park beautiful for everyone to enjoy. The Huron River flowing through this park makes for a relaxing atmosphere and an escape from the everyday hustle of the surrounding city. Give this park a visit and you'll be sure to have a good experience.
440 W. Michigan Ave.
Saline, MI 48716
About Curtiss Park
When looking at parks and nature preserves in Washtenaw County that we wanted to focus on as the basis for our project there were two main things we wanted to accomplish. The first was to empower residents to continue to use the parks that we loved. The second was to bring attention to forgotten nature areas. Curtiss Park sets at the base of beautiful downtown Saline, Michigan. Saline has a reputation for great curb appeal and high standards mixed with small-town charm. Our goal with Curtiss Park is to reveal the natural beauty of the space and to make it a focal point of the city.
When you first arrive at Curtiss Park your attention turns to sprawling open grass spaces next to the Saline River. You can park in the first set of parking lots at the entrance and enjoy picnic areas, tennis courts, and shade spots along the river. Take a stroll across a footbridge to covered pavilions, playground equipment, and an observation deck overlooking the river. Here you'll also have plenty of room to run around or enjoy a book under one of the many shade trees. If you decide to take a different approach you can venture to the back of the park and wander down the Max Adler Trail. Or use one of the baseball fields.
The Max Adler trail is a lush forested trail with scenic river views. Stop along the trail to be serenaded by the wildlife. You’ll hear wood frogs and bluejays as you travel deeper into this engaging forest. Take a second to watch the damselflies perform their intricate dances above the wetlands. Scenes like these and many others along the trails are perfect for capturing amazing photography and breathing in nature.You’ll even find picnic areas tucked away along the trail to stop and enjoy a packed lunch.
Upon a recent visit to Curtiss Park we noticed many areas that would benefit from beautification projects and a loving touch from the community. Wandering Washtenaw will be leading volunteers and residents in projects throughout the year to bring back the shine to Curtiss Park.
Manchester, MI 48158
About Nan Weston Nature Preserve
The Nan Weston Nature Preserve is a wooded sanctuary that will earn your lifelong devotion with just one visit. A sense of wonder comes upon you as soon as you enter the well-maintained forest trail system and the imagination can’t help but run wild at this beautiful haven in Chelsea, Michigan. The first thing that drew us to this preserve was the many varieties of wildflowers that grow here, in particular the Trillium blooms are a sight to see!
This preserve also features a lengthy wooden boardwalk which is a great addition for those hiking with children. Migrating birds often use the treetops as a habitat and in the springtime you can sometimes spot salamanders and newts as they use the vernal ponds during the breeding season. Quaint streams, captivating wildlife and varied landscapes make this location an exciting adventure no matter how many times you return.
Nan Weston Nature Preserve at Sharon Hollow is a preserve owned and maintained by The Nature Conservancy. Wandering Washtenaw is thrilled to include this nature preserve on our top picks list. We encourage others to visit, wander, and take part in programs at this location throughout the year.
Silver Lake at Pinckney Recreation Area8555 Silver Hill Rd.
Pinckney, MI 48169
About Silver Lake @ Pinckney Recreation Center
Silver Lake beach is a hidden gem in Washtenaw County! Silver Lake is located at the Pinckney Recreation Area in Pinckney Michigan. This location is a beautiful example of Michigan’s freshwater lakes and can be accessed using the Michigan Recreation Passport. The day use and beach area are a great place to meet up with family and friends, with picnic tables and grill pits available for use by visitors.The lake is very clean, the trails are well-maintained, and the snack options at the concession stand are reasonably priced.
This park has many features such as boat rentals, an extensive trail system for hiking and biking, and sand volleyball courts. They even have a compressor to blow up your inner tubes for $1. Between the gorgeous views and all the recreation activities, this is truly an all in one location for the perfect beach day!
8399 Textile Rd,
Ypsilanti, MI 48197
About Ford Heritage Park
Ford Heritage Park is a great family-friendly park located in Ypsilanti Township. The massive accessible play structure - Playground Adventures, is what first attracted us to this park. There is engaging equipment and bright colorful atmosphere is very inviting.
Moving further into the park, there is a lovely wooded area that has hiking and bike trails available along with wide paved trails that are wheelchair accessible. The soccer fields and youth baseball/softball fields are well-maintained and just waiting to be filled with kids and teams from the community. This park presents many opportunities for further development such as trail maps and markers for the wooded paths. Also there’s room for the creation and conservation of wildlife habitats for birds and other animals. These are great ways for community members to come together and volunteer on worthwhile projects.
Wandering Washtenaw is pleased to feature this park as one of our Top-Picks. It’s surrounded by residential neighborhoods and is an awesome place for kids and families to explore and utilize. We host nature hikes, education outreach, community potlucks and much more at this centrally located park.
Tell us about your favorite Park or Nature Preserve!
"What a noble gift to man are the Forests! What a debt of gratitude and admiration we owe to their beauty and their utility! How pleasantly the shadows of the wood fall upon our heads when we turn from the glitter and turmoil of the world of man!"
Susan Fenimore Cooper
"In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks."
"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better."